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Three years on, no justice for Ugandan riot victims

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - 10 September, 2012 - Authorities have failed to investigate meaningfully the deaths three years ago of at least 40 people during two days of rioting in Uganda, Human Rights Watch said today. Some families of victims told Human Rights Watch recently that they still hope for justice.

The government has made numerous promises to investigate the deaths during the so-called "Kayunga riots," but a parliamentary committee mandated to examine the incident has stalled, failing to call any witnesses. No police or military members have been held accountable for the violence.

"The long government inaction on the killings of people in September 2009 is an insult to victims," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Resorting to lethal force without clear justification in the face of protests is unacceptable, yet it is becoming the norm in Uganda."

On September 10 and 11, 2009, after the authorities had sought to prevent the cultural leader of the Buganda ethnic group from traveling to Kayunga, a town near Kampala, his supporters took to the streets. In some instances demonstrators threw stones and set debris, unoccupied vehicles, and an unoccupied police post alight.

In response military and police quickly used live ammunition. Unarmed protesters and bystanders died as the police and military police used lethal force to try to frighten people off the streets. Human Rights Watch investigated 13 separate incidents and documented several in which security forces shot live ammunition through the closed doors of peoples' homes, killing those inside.

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